In a big, traditional living room in a very traditional styled house, sometimes a contemporary style sofa just won’t cut it. A sofa set or sectional is the centerpiece of any living space, and if you want to create a classic, old world look, it’s important to choose furniture that’s bold enough to carry the style. Often antique accent chairs are used to add a little traditional flair, but for a large living room, a full antique sofa set is the best way to solidify that opulent, traditional look and feel.
Antique styled sofas are almost always more ornate than contemporary models. First and foremost, it’s rare for a contemporary sofa – even one with a rather traditional style – to contain any wood elements on the exterior. On an antique sofa, though wood trim, wood legs, wood arms, and other carved wood accents are much more common. These decorative pieces are designed to accentuate the curved edge of the sofa back, the fronts of the arms, as well as the bottom edge beneath the seat. This intricately carved wood gives antique sofas a lacy, frilled appearance that is a hallmark of antique design.
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The woodwork also serves an important secondary function, specifically in terms of legs. While contemporary sofas often sit flat on the floor, antique sofas are frequently raised up on carved wood cabriole style legs or bun feet. It’s a seemingly small difference that hugely alters the appearance of the sofa, in part because it’s so uncommon in contemporary design. Even modern sofas that have legs are usually only raised a few inches off the ground, while antique sofas can actually get quite a bit of lift. This raised design shows the floor underneath and gives the sofas a more polished, elegant appearance.
Antique sofas also often have richer, more ornate upholstery than contemporary styles. While leather, suede, and cotton or polyester upholstery are pretty common in modern sofas, antiques use materials that are more lush and tactile, like velvet, brocade, silk, and even embroidered fabric. Many of the antique replicas from AFD even use multiple different kinds of fabrics on the inside and outside of the sofa and on the individual cushions, as well as fine details like tufted buttons or nailhead accents, to create an elaborately detailed, coordinating pattern that’s both intricate and eye catching.
Another major difference between antique sofas and contemporary ones is the cushions. These days, the cushions are often built directly into the back and seat of the sofa as a single solid piece. Throw pillows might be used as an accent, but aren’t usually an integral part of the sofa structure. In contrast, antique sofas are more like benches with padding: there’s a large cushion shaped to fit the seat and padded arms, but the back of the sofa is generally only lightly padded, if at all, and accentuated by thick, cushy pillows made of mixed and matched upholstery. This design gives antique sofas both their comfort and some of their style, emphasizing opulence with the beautiful tasseled fabric and offering a soft, padded nest of pillows that protect you from those intricate wooden edges.
In addition to being remarkably different in their appearance, antique sofa sets also frequently include pieces that you wouldn’t find as part of a more contemporary set. Most include the standard sofa and loveseat sized pieces, but many also include high backed arm chairs with ottomans, elegant benches that feature more wood and a little less cushion than a conventional sofa or loveseat, or even fainting sofas, divans, or chaise lounges that have a sleeker, slinkier look and encourage lounging.
Maybe the best thing about buying an antique replica sofa set, though, is that you won’t actually be sitting on an authentic antique. Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s definitely a place for having authentic antique furniture in the home, but in a heavily trafficked are like the living room, even if you’re gentle, an antique sofa is likely to see some unwanted wear and tear. This is worse the more valuable the piece is, which can make just the prospect of using your sofa a little uncomfortable. Not only do you not have to be shy with sitting on an antique replica, but because methods and materials have improved over the last few centuries, they’re often even more comfortable and durable, too.
What do you think of these lovely antique sofas? Would you rather have a contemporary remake that you can be a little rough with, or do you prefer your antiques to be authentic? Let me know in the comments!